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Chris Hibberd Gallery - November 2020
My Favourite Hydrangeas

We struggle to have any success with the traditional mop-head Hydrangeas, though we keep trying. But other types are a great success and seem to give continuing interest in the garden for months.

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The star of our show is Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle pictured here in July:

Now, nearly a fortnight into November, it is still producing new flowerheads!

Even the dried flower-heads survive intact for most of the winter.

The second ‘must have’ would be at least one variety of Hydrangea paniculata. Again, providing flower interest for a number of months but starting later in the year. 

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Here is ‘Vanilla fraise’ pictured at the end of October.

A third species of Hydrangea which gives me a lot of pleasure is H. quercifolia (oak-leaved hydrangea). With its neat leaves this shrub provides a good border specimen throughout summer but its glory is in autumn when the leaves colour up a dusky red. In spite of high winds and rain, they remain a neat contribution to the increasingly tatty borders at this time of year

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A pleasing plant grouping with H. paniculata ‘Unique’ –

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Leaves of some mophead varieties can also give pleasing autumn colour. This is one of my ‘failures’, the name long since lost in efforts to rescue it by moving to new locations. This autumn colouring was a pleasant surprise.

Now that this plant seems happier, I am hopeful that it will thrive and even flower next year.

Chris Hibberd Gallery - October 2020
Easy leaf mould – make use of all autumn’s bounty.

So, if it’s not too late and there are leaves which haven’t yet been consigned to the compost heap, why not give it a try?

I have come to rely on a source of leaf mould for mulching Hellebores, Heathers and all ericaceous subjects, and also for mixing into the soil for planting them. It can be good mixed into compost for extra organic matter.

The traditional advice for making leaf mould is to collect the leaves into a cage of wire netting. If less room is available, to use old compost bags liberally forked to pierce them with air holes. Now that I no longer have the space for a dedicated cage, I tried the bag method; it takes years to produce anything remotely like leaf mould!

I came across a highly successful tip, obvious really, and that is to use netting bags such as those for carrots, seen at greengrocers. One year on and – hey presto! Leaf mould ready to use. (Maybe a few more months would be an improvement)

Helpful hint:


We find that brushing raking the leaves together onto a flat surface (path or lawn) then using the lawn mower to gather them up saves a lot of bending and shovelling! The collecting box can be emptied directly into the bags. There is an added benefit in that this preliminary chopping helps start the process of breakdown. not too late and there are leaves which haven’t yet been consigned to the compost heap, why not give it a try?

September Roses

If you've never come across an old rose called 'Dublin Bay', it's worth seeking out.

It is a short climber but can be pruned to be a shrub. Very floriferous, blooms not damaged by rain and long-lived in a vase. A most reliable variety, giving a good show throughout summer and autumn. 




An unusual colour with brown tones. This is a newer rose which wowed the public and garden designers when it was released a few years ago. "Hot Chocolate"

'Queen Elizabeth' a clear pink rose is an old variety. Growth is upright and tall. A useful rose which tolerates a shady spot.


'Remember Me ' is a hybrid tea rose and much shorter. Beautifully formed blooms of coppery orange.

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